Giving tech start-ups the support they need

Originally featured in Manchester Evening News Greater Manchester Business Week

Alison Loveday, managing partner at independent Manchester law firm Berg, discusses how tech start-ups need the support of established firms in the sector…

Autumn always seems to go in a flash, heralding the onset of winter and, before you know it, a New Year. For Greater Manchester’s science and technology sector, let’s hope things don’t go too fast, as we want to savour the build-up to 2016, when we will proudly be the European City of Science.

Instead, let’s use the coming months as a time to reflect and to prepare. To reflect on the success of operations in areas such as Daresbury, our Universities, the National Graphene Institute, and to prepare for what comes next.

Because science and technology is all about ‘next’, as our region’s successful technology website coined it, ‘The Next Web’. And believe it or not, it is very difficult to enter the sector as a new start-up without the advice and assistance from those that have come before – and achieving the full potential of a new business idea or growth in an established business is made so much easier with that support.

London has its efforts to create its own Silicon Valley and is now reaping the benefits of that focus – particularly in the Fin-Tech sector.

Manchester and the North need to recognise that success in this space will not just arrive, and will be hard won. We already have some amazing successes, and are we telling others? Have their stories made their way down to London or across to California? If not, why not?

What can we do in the business and professional community to raise awareness and help build the region’s reputation in this space, so that it actually reflects what’s been happening on the grounds, our fantastic achievements and starts to to map out the future and what it might look like. The world will sit up and take notice and the interest and investment needed to deliver that future will be made available.

The role of groups such as Pro Manchester is important in sharing expertise, and contacts. But so is the imagination of financiers, from established banks who need to look outside London for an imaginative investment, to alternative finance – of which, we have some world leading pioneers on our doorstep.

I urge 2016 to be the year the professional services sector pledges to think ‘next’ and to work together to offer the financial advice and solutions to make tomorrow’s dreams become today’s reality.

This means law firms getting a strong handle around future-proofing Intellectual Property. It means urging tech entrepreneurs to think commercially at the start of their funding applications, rather than seeing their applications fail and becoming disheartened.

It means sharing contacts and access to the industry, because this is what is happening in London and globally, and we can’t afford to fight among ourselves. When the opportunity is global, our local identity becomes a badge of honour – a symbol of quality and innovation.

So let’s make it the autumn of financial innovation, and begin the New Year on the front foot financially, ready to take on the world.

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berg has merged with Kennedys

On 1st September 2017 berg merged with Kennedys to become part of the firm’s global operation. Read more here.